Girls' education and gender in education sector plans and GPE-funded programs

This report takes stock of how girls' education and gender issues are included in education sector plans as well as implementation plans of GPE partner countries, and in the programs that are funded by GPE grants. The objective of the report is to establish a baseline for information available in current documents, in order to inform and improve the consideration of gender issues in future sector plans, and to promote the achievement of the GPE strategic objective 2 on gender equality and inclusion.

This report was developed under GPE’s Strategic Plan 2012-2015 and before the World Education Forum in Incheon in May 2015. Some information is therefore no longer current.

All statistical data used in the report is from UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics and refers to 2013 data. The Education sector plans that were analyzed through this report covered mostly the period 2012 until 2015/16.


Some of the key findings include:

Availability of gender-disaggregated data in education sector plans (ESP)

The presentation of gender-disaggregated statistical data in ESPs is a key first step in assessing the extent of gender disparities and identifying at what levels such disparities exist. These data will allow, among other things, to (i) better develop targeted measures to address the most significant disparities, and (ii) set intervention objectives.

Out of 42 ESPs analyzed, 34 included gender-disaggregated indicators for primary education, whether regarding intake, access or retention. Among the eight ESPs that did not provide gender-disaggregated data for primary education, 5 have achieved gender parity according to UIS data. At the secondary education level, 14 ESPs out of 42 include at least two gender-disaggregated indicators. While most ESPs provide gender-disaggregated indicators, data availability is highly inconsistent across ESPs, and there is no systematic inclusion of access, retention and completion indicators. It then often proves difficult, from reading ESPs, to have a global picture of gender disparities in primary and secondary education. However, such information exists in most countries, particularly in statistical yearbooks.

Data on learning outcomes data is a common weakness, with only three ESPs presenting gender-disaggregated data on student learning achievement level. However, a few ESPs do mention that girls performed less well in examinations than boys. If learning outcomes are lower for girls than for boys in some countries, a detailed investigation should be carried out in order to better understand the reasons behind the lower performance and identify and adopt appropriate interventions. Furthermore, while gender-disaggregated data from learning assessments is not presented in many ESPs, it is important to find this data, and where this is not possible, alternative sources such as girls’ and boys’ success rates in national examinations can be analyzed.

National statistical data may conceal significant regional disparities

National averages may be the result of significant variance between regions or geographical zones (rural or urban) within a single country, including in countries which have achieved parity. Understanding disparities is therefore more complex than simply considering the national level GPI, and may entail considering other factors such as the place of residence or household income level. The combined impacts of these factors reinforce gender disparities. Eight ESPs out of 42 include data disaggregated by gender AND by region. The lack of gender disparity analysis at the regional level inhibits the design and targeting of context relevant interventions. Indeed, any country may have pockets of resistance to girls’ education, which should logically lead to the implementation of gender-specific interventions addressing not only the demand for education but also supply.

Female teacher related data in ESPs

The lack of female teachers was highlighted in 31% of ESPs as a barrier to girls’ education. Out of 42 ESPs analyzed, 13 provide data on the number of female teachers in primary education, and 6 on the number of female teachers in secondary education. It should be noted that these countries are not necessarily ones which reported teacher gender disparities as an obstacle to girls' participation in schools. Moreover, five countries do not provide any data on female teachers’ percentage while implementing specific policies. Because of this lack of data, it is not possible to gauge the extent of gender disparities within the teaching staff, and this therefore severely limits the assessment of such policy efficiency and relevance.

To read the full report, download it below

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